Combat Assault Part 1

What is a Combat Assault?

A Combat Assault is generally defined as a military attack usually involving direct combat with enemy forces.  A combat assault is also a concerted effort to reach a goal or defeat an adversary.  Combat assaults during Vietnam were generally made by helicopter since it was the most expedient way of moving troops from one location to another.

I do not recall how many Combat Assaults we had – – probabaly more than 25-50.  It was sometimes exciting but always made us very nervous since we never knew if it would be a ‘hot’ landing zone (LZ).  A hot LZ was one where we landed under fire.

Here is a group waiting for the Chopper to arrive. The handsome guy in the rear center is Senior Medic Bud Roach.

To me, the real heroes were the Medics. As an infantry soldier when you come under fire you drop, find cover, locate the enemy and return fire.

The medic treats the wounded and often in the clear exposing his self to direct fire.

Elmer Hale

July 8, 1945 – October 1, 2021

Elmer D. Hale, 76, of Flat Rock, IL, died October 1, 2021, surrounded by his family following a short battle with cancer.
He was born July 8, 1945, in Lawrenceville, IL, the son of Ruby (Sissle) Hale. His early years were marked by hardship, and as a young boy, Elmer relied on the benevolence of his neighbors before finding a home with his foster parents, Tony & Mary Hill. A 1963 graduate of Lawrenceville High School, he was eventually drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He would go on to proudly serve his country as a radio telephone operator and infantryman in the 4th Infantry Division from 1967 to 1969. Over the course of his service, he saw heavy action and earned an
Army Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart for distinguished acts of heroism in the face of danger and adversity.

After returning home from war, he earned a Petroleum Tech degree from Lincoln Trail College and went to work for Marathon Oil Company. Here, he would work in both the laboratory and as an operator during his career.

On March 13, 1981, Elmer married the love of his life, Sharon Matthews, making him not only the father of his two sons, but also a father to her two daughters, whom he raised and loved as his own. They remember Elmer as a man who held a deeply embedded love for his family, his country, and his Lord. A man of faith, he was a longtime member of the Flat Rock United Methodist Church and was also active with a number of other organizations, such as the Robinson V.F.W. Post #4549, the Flat Rock American Legion Post #132, Disabled American Veterans, and the National Rifle Association. This voracious reader believed in giving back to his community, as evidenced by his time
on the Robinson District Library Board. Elmer was also a 49-year member of the Flat Rock Masonic Lodge #348 and was involved with the Valley of Danville Scottish Rite as well.

Anyone who knew him could attest to his love of sports. He was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinal fan and followed University of Illinois basketball and kept up with Lawrenceville High School games. He was also an avid hunter.

It didn’t matter what he was hunting, be that duck, squirrel, rabbit, or deer; he simply loved the thrill of the hunt while being out in God’s creation. He enjoyed much of our nation’s natural beauty by way of family road trips.

Few things brought him more joy than loading his loved ones in a van and taking in the sights of Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, and countless other destinations.

Throughout his adult life, Elmer made a point to stay in contact with many of his battle buddies. He belonged to a group of veterans with whom he became good friends, staying in touch nearly every day. They would meet at several veterans’ reunions, including the annual Vietnam Veterans Reunion in Kokomo, IN, an event Elmer looked forward to every year. In October of 2017, he was honored with an all-expenses-paid trip to the memorials in Washington, D.C., through the Honor Flight Network. Elmer Hale was, by all accounts, a man worth honoring.
Mere words cannot and do not convey the selfless dedication it takes to sacrifice oneself for their country. We are humbled by his tenacity of spirit and recognize that Elmer represented the very best of who we are. We thank God for him and that his 76 years with us were but the beginning of life eternal.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon Hale; by his two sons & daughters-in-law, David & Kara Hale (Robinson, IL) and Ryan & Waleska Hale (Bellville, IL); by his two daughters & sons-in-law, Lisa & Jay Jacobs (Robinson, IL) and Laura & Dan Gallion (Robinson, IL); by his grandchildren, Nicole & Jerry Wilson, Emily Paddock & Billy Sears, Evan Hale, Addy Paddock, Julia Gallion, Payton Gallion, and Skylar Hale; by his great-grandchildren, Brylee Sears and Rolland Wilson; by his cousins, Janet & Randy Ammons (Knoxville, TN) and Gwen & Mike Lauderdale (Evansville, IN); by his brothers-in-law & sisters-in-law, Verl & Carol Sanders (ND), Elwin & Ann Marie Sanders (GA), Karlette & Bernie Morgan (Casey, IL), Byron & Kim Sanders (Oblong, IL), and Roberta Quinn (Robinson, IL);
as well as several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Ruby Hale; by his foster parents, Tony & Mary Hill; by his brother, John Hale; and by his father-in-law & mother-in-law, Robert & Pauline Sanders.

A time of visitation will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5th, at the Flat Rock United Methodist Church.
A Masonic service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday and will be followed by a funeral service conducted by Celebrant Curt Goodwine. Military rites will be accorded by the combined units of the U.S. Army, the Robinson V.F.W. Post #4549, the Robinson American Legion Post #69, and the Flat Rock American Legion Post #132. A live stream of his service will be available
on Goodwine Funeral Homes’ Facebook page or by going to

Memorial contributions may be made to “Pine Haven Christian Children’s Ranch” or
“Oblong Children’s Christian Home”, with envelopes available at the church.

Obituary from the Goodwine Funeral Homes website

The Art of Shit Burning

By Robert  “Bob” Kickenweitz

The Army has always amused me, and how it manages to keep it personnel busy. Just about everybody knows what KP means, (Kitchen Police). You help the chefs in the mass hall, peel potatoes, keep the coffee go, keep the milk replenished, and clean the pots and pans. Another detail is Policing the area, what this means is you get all the enlisted man and make a line. You walk through the company area and pick up cigarettes butts or any pieces of paper that may have blown into the company area. But unless you’re a Vietnam veteran you would not know the detail of shit burning, and yes it is exactly what it sounds like. You burn shit! There is no reason to call it anything else. Excrement, fecal matter, crap, or feces, believe me it’s all the same, its shit! Here is the way it works; first let me said that Johnny on the spot, or some of the other waste removal systems had not been invented yet.

Lets start with the outhouse. A lean-to with four walls, and a shad type roof. The structure was about eight feet wide and six feet in depth. The front wall being the tallest at about eight feet, with a door entrance.  Across the top of the front wall from one side to the other and about one foot wide is a screened area for ventilation. The back wall was about six to seven feet high. Inside across the back wall was a bench about two feet high closed in front. Two toilet seats were attached to the bench with a hole beneath each of them. Half of a fifty-five gallon drum would be beneath each of the holes in the bench. Around the rear of the outhouse about three feet high was a hinged door that ran the width of the outhouse.

You would start by opening the hinged door. With a pole you would pull out the two fifty-five gallon drum halves to an area about ten to fifteen feet away from the outhouse. You would then place two new fifty-five gallon drums into the outhouse. The outhouse was now ready for use again. You still have the two fifty-five gallon drums to deal with. You would start by pouring diesel fuel in both of the drums, mix a little with a pole. You would next get some toilet paper, roll it up a bit, lit it and drop it into the drums. The toilet paper would act as a wick and heat the diesel fuel to a point that would ignite it. And that my friends is what we Vietnam veterans call shit burning detail.